‘Let’s hear it for New Zealand’ exclaims the New York Times editorial.
Why? Because New Zealand is leading a group of countries that opposes a Bush Administration plan to supply nuclear technology to India. Supply of nuclear technology to India is banned because it used its civilian nuclear programme to develop an atomic bomb, contrary to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The US needs the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers’ Group to agree to change the rules to make the US-India deal legal. The New Zealand-led group is blocking the deal unless India submits to international monitoring of its nuclear programme and there are guarantees that fissile material won’t be sold to India and that India will be blocked from any future nuclear trade if it tests another nuke.
But this kind of principled leadership isn’t a given. National is a reflexively pro-US party – Simon Power said we should follow the US in any circumstance, Key blustered that we should have helped the US invade Iraq, most National MPs oppose our nuclear ban even if the party has swallowed that dead rat. If National were government, we would almost certainly adopt a pro-US stance, which would mean supprting the nuke deal.
As much as the big policy gaps between National and the Left matter, so do these fundamental differences in worldview that mean they react to emerging issues in radically different ways.